By Ellyn Heeley
What does it take to be The Doctor’s companion? Is it the brave, no fear attitude that attracts The Doctor to them? Or is it their kindness and compassion that makes him think that they’re the ones for him? It’s a tough question to answer. It’s not like the position is advertised in the paper. Potential applicants have no time to brush up on their interview techniques and perfect their CVs. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time and hoping you impress him. At the end of the day, not everyone gets to travel the stars with a mad man with a box.
We have all witnessed the Doctor’s taste for Earth girls over the past few years – which doesn’t necessarily rule out Martian males (it may reduce your chances though, sorry boys). Despite this, The Doctor has had men aboard his Tardis, which leads us to think it’s not certain genders he prefers, it’s certain personalities. Have you got what it takes to be The Doctor’s companion? Let’s find out…
1. A Need to Escape
Whether it’s a conscious or sub-conscious need to escape from their day to day lives, every one of the Time Lord’s companions has wanted to simply get away. Depending on the companion, the reason to escape varies. Vicki left with The Doctor because of her family, Ben Jackson joined the time travelling action because of an issue with work, and Rose Tyler leaves because her life working in a shop doesn’t excite her. The people he chooses don’t want to carry on leading their lives as they have been doing. Even the Doctor chooses to run away from the person he is and what has happened in his past. Maybe he wants to surround himself with people who understand that.
Ultimately, The Doctor understands that he doesn’t offer people the chance to travel with him regularly. He knows what travelling through time and space does to a person, which is why he would never ask unless he was sure that they wanted to come. Even if his invitation alone doesn’t win them over, the mighty blue box usually offers a much more tempting offer. For as we all know, if there was one way we could all escape, it would be via the Tardis.
Next up is a quality that is often hidden within a companion and only revealed when it is truly required. This doesn’t take long when travelling with The Doctor because trouble and danger is always just around the corner. In some cases, like in the episode ‘The Poison Sky’, it’s more than a touch of bravery that is required when Donna Noble steps out from the safety of the Tardis to wallop a Sontaron over the back of the head. The bravery of a companion shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of fear. It’s easy to forget that, whilst a companion can beat up a Dalek with a baseball bat (Ace) and have fierce battle cries (Jamie McCrimmon), they are still scared. So many people think that they couldn’t be The Doctor’s companion because they would be too scared of what they’d face.
Some people might argue that bravery is a quality that you gain not before the Doctor meets you but after. I don’t believe that. I believe that when you travel with The Doctor, he shows you what you’re capable of. It’s important that a companion is brave because, as noted by Madam de Pompador in the episode ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’: “The monsters and the Doctor. It seems you cannot have one without the other.” The Doctor needs help with all those troublesome creatures because, as much as The Doctor would benefit from it, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
3. A Sense of Humour/Open minded
The Doctor’s travels can take him anywhere. Oh, except New York, 1938…and Galifrey, which is time-locked but not anymore…
Let’s just say for arguments sake that The Doctor can travel far. During his time in brand new (and quite literally) alien places, companions are thrown into sometimes weird and wonderful situations. Before they can say ‘I’m laughing because otherwise I’d cry’, they’re faced with anything from farting aliens, to Shakespeare trying to make a move on them. It’s fair to say that there is a strong need for the companion of The Doctor to have a sense of humour and an open mind.
I think that this is one of the most understated qualities that the companions all have. None of us stop and think about how situations would have been different if companions couldn’t just laugh things off. For example, Captain Jack Harkness is bound to make a re-appearance soon (she says, reassuringly) and we all know what he’s like with companions and The Doctor…and everyone. Now this next bit in the article is going to require you do something almost impossible. Take a deep breath and concentrate. Imagine that someone didn’t want the interest of Captain Jack. I know, I know, impossible – but if you can, imagine how awkward it would be in the Tardis afterwards. After the rejection. You’d be dropped on the planet of scissors just so you could cut the tension. Yes, I did just make that joke.
When I say intelligence, I don’t necessarily mean that you need to be incredibly clever with lots of qualifications to travel in time and space. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t have all those things and still be picked. What I’m trying to say is that The Doctor requires someone who can learn quickly and use their common sense when it comes to ‘interestingly close to death’ situations. A good example of an intelligent companion is Sarah Jane Smith. She didn’t understand what The Doctor talked about half the time (let’s face it, who actually does ?), but she still managed to assist him and think for herself. She thought so much for herself that she managed to carry on The Doctor’s work without him making a profitable contribution to the planet and to the BBC.
Loyalty for The Doctor is a must. The main reason The Doctor can show certain people the wonders of the universe is because he can trust them to be loyal to him. He doesn’t want to have to worry about whether they will accidently-on purpose video the end of the universe and put it on Youtube. He wants to know that no matter how amazing the things his companions get shown, they will never do anything to break that trust with him. Recently, Clara Oswald broke The Doctor’s trust by stealing his Tardis’ keys to try and bring Danny Pink back – and The Doctor still continued his association with her. This could mean that maybe the loyalty of a companion doesn’t actually have to be for The Doctor, it can be for someone else. As long as the companion proves they believe they have it for the right reasons. Clara’s reason was love.
Whether or not companions have loyalties elsewhere, they still leave the people they love to be with The Doctor. Their families imprisoned and tortured, love interests stranded on Earth with no knowledge of whether they’re safe, lying to their family members to protect them and ultimately dying in the name of The Doctor – these are all part of the job description. No-one can tell me that you don’t have to be loyal to do all those things.
At the end of the day, you can never tell what kind of person you are until you are in situations that make you realise your full potential. So you will never know until you’re handed a key to the Tardis by The Doctor whether or not you could be his companion. Unless I am very much mistaken, everyone reading this is from Earth-so everyone one of you already have a good chance of being that someone The Doctor chooses. It must say something about our planet that most of the companions The Doctor has chosen have come from Earth. We’re either just good runners or we’re better than we think we are. You have to remember that just because you don’t think you’re good enough, it doesn’t mean to say The Doctor would agree.